The media and political storm leading up to Bibi’s promised ‘annexation’ on 1 July was fairly predictable. Up until the last moment, however, what wasn’t predictable was what Bibi would actually do. Would this be another broken promise? Or would Bibi ignore everything – real and imagined – that was stacked up by way of opposition, and go ahead?
As we all know, what we got was indeed another broken promise. From my perspective, that was only half the issue.
(To be clear, I wasn’t counting on his promise. It wasn’t what I wanted to happen. It is also noteworthy that several commentators accurately predicted nothing would happen.)
The other half of the issue – one that seems to have largely been overlooked – was how we (Israel) got ourselves into such a position that one man could hold such power and potentially wield it in such a way that would irrevocably damage Israel, with no fear of an effective opposition. If Bibi wanted to extend civil law, it would happen.
Who is responsible for that state of affairs? The voters and Benny Gantz. Not a lot we can do about that now. However, it does seem that Gantz will pay for his perfidy should he face the electorate in the future. I do wish the voters would also make Bibi pay for his folly should he be around for the next election.
As matters stand, it appears the annexation topic is off the agenda while the government deals with more pressing issues. But I’ll take the opportunity to offer some random thoughts and observations.
- Annexation is the wrong word. (But, it’s so much snappier than the alternatives!) What it is about is the application of Israeli law to certain territory.
- Unless you make a unique interpretation of international law, there is only one country that has legal right and title to Judea and Samaria: Israel.
- These two points having been made, however, there was no material gain for Israel to extend its law to parts of Judea and Samaria at this time. None.
- There was the potential of a real downside for Israel.
- It was scandalous to devote any resources to this project when there were far more pressing issues for a responsible government to deal with. Like coronavirus, the economy, and the ticking bomb that is Gaza.
- If ever there were a single episode that proved you cannot be an effective Prime Minister while facing criminal charges, this was it!
- The whole situation has probably hardened the divide between Israel and American Jews of a Democratic persuasion. Under Bibi, Israel has largely become a partisan issue. That’s bad. Very bad.
- When even a hard-nosed Bibi fan like the Elder of Ziyon rightly says it’s been a debacle, and skewers Bibi in the process, that tells you how bad this has been for Israel.
- The one bright spot – not that bright, but in this part of the world it’s all relative – was the Palestinian leadership making a counter proposal to Trump’s peace plan and declaring themselves now ready to negotiate. Do I believe anything will come of that? No. Do I want Bibi to do something about it? Absolutely. No matter how poor the prospects of success, our Prime Minister should start talking. As Dov Lipman once said, we have to be able to tell our grandchildren that we did all we could to try to make peace.
- I have polished my crystal ball. It tells me that reviving the idea of extending Israeli civil law at any time in the next few years would simply be repeating past mistakes.
It is frustrating seeing such poor leadership from the Prime Minster of Israel. For the country’s sake, let’s hope such a woeful performance is not repeated ever again.